Elijah Vincent: “A terror to all those who opposed the crown”
From my genealogical researching, I’ve discovered many of my ancestors were farmers. They seemed to live uneventful lives, at least when you only have census records and family lists as data to go by. Farmer John married Jane Farmer’s Daughter and they had 8 children. Those eight children married farmers and farmers’ daughters and they had 8 children and so on.
Every once in a while, you hit something solid in your proverbial digging. Through another of my Dad’s lines, I uncovered Elijah Vincent, a United Empire Loyalist, who came from the United States after the American Revolution. Elijah, himself, was a 6th generation American when he was born in Eastchester, New York on Christmas Eve 1759. He was the oldest of 6 children born to Lewis Vincent and Abigail Fowler. His 4 X great-grandfather, Adrian Vincent, came from Belgium to America in 1633 but it was Elijah who brought this line to Canada.
That isn’t the interesting part. In July 1781, during the Revolutionary War, Elijah’s brother, Gilbert, a blacksmith, refused to shoe a French officer’s horse because it was a Sunday. A conflict ensued and the officer killed Gilbert. When Elijah heard of his brother’s death, he sought vengeance. As an ensign for James DeLancey’s Westchester Refugees, he laid hiding in some bushes and when a French group of hussars passed, he fatally shot their captain. According to Commemorative Discourse Delivered at the Centennial Anniversary of the Erection and Sixtieth of the Consecration of St. Paul’s Church, East Chester, Elijah “throughout this whole region became a terror to all those who opposed the crown”.
Isn’t this the stuff that Revolutionary War movies are made of? In fact, wasn’t it already a movie? Oh no, I’m thinking of “The Patriot” and clearly that wasn’t about a “Loyalist”. It was an intriguing research project to say the least. There do seem to be some details that show up differently in sources. For example, some sources indicate the officer in need of the blacksmith was French and others say American. Some stories say that Gilbert Vincent was shot and killed and others say he was sliced apart by a sword and lived. The heart of the story remains consistent, Gilbert Vincent, a Blacksmith, was killed or critically injured and Elijah sought vengeance and killed a captain opposed to the Loyalists.
He married Abigail Bayeux in 1791 and brought his family officially to Canada in 1796. He settled in Willoughby Township which is now a part of the Region of Niagara Falls. Of his four children, his oldest daughter, Abigail, my 5 x great-grandmother, married John Amerman and settled in Bayham Township close to modern-day Straffordville, ON. Many of her descendants remain close to Bayham Township to this day, myself included. It’s an area rich with my family history. What else might I unearth in this Vincent line?
1. Wilkerson, Lyn. Historical Cities-New York City. (USA: Caddo, 2010) Google Books, accessed July 9, 2015.
2. “America Meets France Outside New York City,” accessed July 9, 2015, http://web.ncf.ca/dc253/Adams%20Ground/America%20Meets%20France%20Outside%20New%20York.pdf.
3. Coffey, Rev. William Samuel. Commemorative Discourse Delivered at the Centennial Anniversary of the Erection and Sixtieth of the Consecration of St. Paul’s Church, East Chester. (New York: Perris and Browne, 1866) Google Books, accessed July 9, 2010.
4. Scharf, John Thomas. History of Westchester County: New York, Including Morrisania, Kings Bridge and West Farms: Volume 1. (Philedelphia: L. E. Preston & Co., 1886) Google Books, accessed July 9, 2015.
5. “Elijah Vincent,” accessed July 9, 2015, http://trees.ancestry.ca/tree/45656741/person/6889121046.